High street footfall plummets amid cost of living strain

Footfall is still 48% lower than pre-pandemic levels, according to RSM UK’s analysis of the latest data from Datscha, with London continuing to ‘still not be back at full capacity’

High street footfall fell 25% in May against the previous month, according to RSM UK’s analysis of the latest data from Datscha, showing that the biggest month-on-month decreases were seen in Glasgow (down 54%), Newcastle (down 40%) and Brighton (down 39%).

Footfall is reportedly still 48% lower than pre-pandemic levels, which was driven by declines in London (down 68%), Newcastle (down 67%) and Glasgow (down 67%) as the most affected areas. 

In addition, London continues to be hit by hybrid working with less workers commuting into the city, while international and business travel is said to “still not be back at full capacity”. 

Glasgow footfall was also hit by train strikes in May, coupled with weak consumer confidence and workers “only trickling back” into the office. However, Guildford and Leeds were said to buck the trend after increasing 8% and 2% month-on-month respectively, and were reportedly the only two cities to exceed pre-pandemic levels in May.

Jacqui Baker, partner and head of retail at RSM UK, said: “It’s surprising to see such a sharp drop in footfall levels given the bank holiday and school half-term in May. But this was the first month that consumers really felt the magnitude of various price increases, such as energy and fuel. 

“Consumer confidence also reached an all-time low of -41%. As a result, consumers are having to tighten their purse strings which we’re witnessing on the high streets.” 

She added: “There’s still fewer foreign tourists visiting the UK, particularly from China which only came out of lockdown at the beginning of June. Retailers will be banking on international travel to ramp up during the summer and provide footfall levels with a much-needed boost.”

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